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Getting the modal shift moving

Jun 03, 2015 / alpMedia
Austria gives the green light for the construction of a controversial rail tunnel. At the same time, the Swiss Federal Office for Transport has published two reports that suggest that the modal shift of goods onto rail can succeed even without large infrastructure projects.
Image caption:
To get goods of the roads and onto rail above all needs software, i.e. laws, access and an Alpine-wide framework. © Berggeist007 /

The Austrian Federal Administrative Court has now ruled that the Semmering rail tunnel can be built. The public interest outweighs all objections made, such as the project’s lack of economic benefits. The current figures of the Swiss Federal Office for Transport suggest that, for an effective modal shift of goods onto the railways, the existing infrastructure is adequate if the right accompanying measures are introduced: in 2014, rail in Switzerland increased its market share for transalpine freight to over two thirds (67.3 percent). This is the highest level since the 2001 introduction of the Heavy Vehicle Charge (LSVA), a toll that applies on all roads for trucks weighing over 3.5 tonnes. “This is mainly a matter of transport policy: not only the heavy vehicle charge, but also promoting the use of railways or stricter controls on trucks”, says Manuel Herrmann of the Alps Initiative.

Things are different in France: from 1999 to 2013, the share of rail freight transported between France and Italy fell considerably, both at Frejus and at Ventimiglia: down from 19.9% to 9.3%. On the Brenner Pass too, over which most goods are carried, rail freight transport practically stagnated at 11.7 million tonnes in 2013.

On 30 May 2015, therefore, the Alpine Initiative and the European Transport Initiative (ITE) passed a joint resolution demanding an Alps-wide co-ordinated transport policy and a halt to road projects, such as on the Gotthard Pass. The Swiss experience shows that, to get the modal shift moving, what is above all needed is “software”: infrastructure alone cannot yet get goods off the road.

Source and further information :,lnp6I0NTU042l2Z6ln1acy4Zn4Z2qZpnO2Yuq2Z6gpJCDfHt7fmym162epYbg2c_JjKbNoKSn6A-- (de/fr), (de/fr/it), (de/fr/it), (de), (de)

Filed under: alpMedia 05/2015